[Find all articles about the Otto Bock Michelangelo hand]
While I am still busy lining up comparative benchmark type manipulations to compare iLimb and cable controlled prosthetics and considering artistic aspects of prosthetics, the new 2010 model of Otto Bock's Michelangelo hand apparently featuring 'biomimicry' (i.e., their version of the iLimb) can be seen already on video.
More recently seen, the OT Leipzig 2010 version looks disappointing in comparison. Probably we see the same phenomenon as in the car industry: gorgeous concept cars or advertising prosthesis - and no thrill afterwards. I also attended a local live demo in May 2011 that seemed to subdue too exuberant initial expectations.
In trying to be 'bionic' (whatever the precise definition of that term may be), there are also other interesting projects such as the RAPHaEL hand or works done with Alejandro Hernandez Arieta at the AI Lab of the University of Zuerich. Related products seem to be the DEKA arm and the iLimb and the very similar looking BeBionic hand. Currently, research and development works towards multifinger and complex motion control rather than the two-electrode control that myoelectric hands have since the fifties.
The iLimb, BeBionic and Michelangelo hand:
- are not at all thought-controlled (as awkward advertising hype may suggest)
- look cool, but obviously any hand can be tweaked to also look cool
- are restricted to myoelectric arms / sockets
- only use two electrodes (open/close/switch) rather than currently emerging complex control paradigms
- may deplete batteries rather quickly
- are extremely/prohibitively expensive
- offer limited grasp/lift options
- seem to have significant delay (as other myoelectric arms)
- emit irritating motor hissing sounds and are really noisy and loud
- do not look good with cosmetic gloves on
Now, what immediately catches my eye in the Michelangelo hand videos is what appears to me to be a rather significant time lag between the moment a grip or hand movement seems to be in order and until it is actually done. I have started to investigate the subject of myoelectric prostheses and time lags a bit further even though maybe one day we will see mind control. It appears that these time lags are inherent to myoelectric control and so cable control wins.
Yes, of course - mind control! - "Only once I can use mind control, why the clumsy interface?" (Wolf Schweitzer, commenting on the Michelangelo hand, 2009)
As the Michelangelo hand is neither available, nor guaranteed to be affordable at all, nor is there any indication that it will work comfortably on a rather long stump such as mine given my problems I had so far using myoelectric technology I decided that a responsive and fast, sufficiently complex and cool hand does not necessarily have to be electric. Au contraire :-)
Meet my Becker Lock Grip Hand. It features an adaptive grip, particularly precise cable control, full manufacturer warranty and the option of getting a custom model made - also I went artistic with it and turned it into another Red Hand. It even solves difficult gripping problems that are probably way beyond these very modern gadgets. See my benchmark demos for handling eggs or picking grapes. This must be the ultimate proficiency test.
Copyright Otto Bock.